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6-Point Program for Leftover Paint
An average of two gallons of household paint is sold for
each person in the United States each year. That's a lot of
paint! Too much of that paint ends up in our nation's landfills,
because people needlessly throw it away. But you can help
by following these steps:
1. Buy Only The Paint You Need
First, always buy only what you need. That way, you reduce
the chance of having any paint leftover in the first place.
It's the same idea behind reusing grocery bags, or eliminating
excess packaging. When you avoid creating waste at the start,
you're practicing "source reduction." It's a smart
way to help the environment!
2. Store Paint So it Lasts for Years
You don't throw away the loaf of bread just because you used
a few slices. You wrap it up and store it, so you can enjoy
it again later. It's the same with paint. Did you know that
when properly stored, paint can last for years? Just cover
the opening with plastic wrap, and make sure the lid fits
securely so the paint doesn't leak. Here's the key step: store
the paint can upside down. The paint will create a tight seal
around the lid, keeping the paint fresh until you need it
3. Use Up All Your Paint
Now that you know how to keep your leftover paint fresh for
years, don't forget about it. Use it up!
Leftover paint can be used on touch-up jobs and smaller projects.
You can also blend and mix smaller quantities of similar colors
of latex paint to use as a primer on larger jobs, or jobs
where the final finish is not critical. (Always make sure
you read and follow all label instructions when applying paint.)
4. Recycle the Empty Paint Can
Once you've used up your paint, recycle the empty steel paint
cans. Each paint can you recycle is one less can that ends
up in a landfill! In some areas, plastic paint pails and containers
may also be recyclable, so be sure to check the requirements
for your community.
5. Donate or Exchange Your Paint
If you just can't use your leftover paint, donate it to community
groups, theater groups, schools, churches and others who need
or want it. You may even be able to take a tax deduction!
Another good way to get rid of your unwanted leftover paint
is to participate in -- or organize -- a neighbor-to-neighbor
or community-wide paint exchange/paint swap. Some communities
even hold these along with their household waste collection
6. As a Last Resort...Dispose of Paint Properly
Everyone should be able to save, use up, donate or exchange
leftover paint. If as a last resort you need to dispose of
your leftover paint, make sure you do it properly.
Dry leftover latex-based paint and discard it. Let your leftover
latex paint air dry away from children and pets. One method
is to pour the latex paint into a paper box or bag, and add
absorbent material such as shredded newspaper and cat box
filler to speed drying. Recycle the empty can, and then throw
the dried paint away with your normal trash. (Note: If you
live in California, Washington or Minnesota, your state may
require special disposal considerations for latex-based paints,
so be sure to check.)
Remember, air drying liquid solvent-based paint is generally
not recommended, but if the paint has already solidified in
a closed can, you can dispose of it in the regular trash.
Save leftover solvent-based paint for collection. Liquid
solvent-based paint should not be discarded with normal trash.
Instead, save it for a special paint collection program or
household hazardous waste program in your community.